Monday, January 26, 2009

Homelessness and Poverty

Last night we decided to go to Dairy Queen for the Buy One Get One Free gimmick of blizzards since it snowed yesterday. Before the DQ trip we all ate at Santa Fe, a Mexican restaurant. In fact, we've ate out several times in the past week, and odds are you probably have, too. Regardless, while we were at Dairy Queen a man made his way into the store and bought himself a burger. He sat a few tables away from us and ate his single burger silently and alone. He was wrapped in a heavy coat and his skin was hard and leather looking. I am sad to say that I did not notice any of this until the very end. Keisha pointed out the man as he was getting ready to leave. She pointed out that he was counting out change on the table as if he was figuring whether or not he had enough money for more food. While she was discreetly telling me, the man left the store. We sat and talked quietly about the situation, and I silently prayed that the man would still be outside when we left.

I thank God that he was. Neither of us had cash on us but we approached the man as we were making our way to the truck. "I think you dropped this," I said to the man, holding out a $10 bill and placing it into his hand. We looked at each other in the eyes and he seemed confused. I repeated what I said and he smiled and replied with a "God bless you." Ten dollars isn't much money, but to the man it was another warm meal or two. To me it was an opportunity to share kindness and love with a person in need.

Homelessness breaks my heart in a different way than starving kids in Africa or war-stricken villages in Afghanistan. Homelessness is at my doorstep and I can do something immediately to help. I keep a Bible with some money in my car on the chance that I meet someone on the side of the road needing help. I've gone through my clothes and packed warm things and non-perishable foods in Kroger bags and kept them in my car to give away to someone that may need it. I try to ask for the people's names when I give things so I can pray for them, and I hope by showing kindness to the person that another Follower of the Cross will be able to work with the seed that I planted.

We are so blessed that we don't even stop to think about it. We have our warm homes with enough electronics to scare Russia into thinking we're starting another Cold War. Our fridges and cabinets are well stocked. Our trash is full of food that we don't like and/or didn't finish eating. Our closets are stuffed with clothes we don't wear, but we think they look pretty or we could wear them someday. Outside it's 26* and feels like 20*, and there's a very likely chance that 3-6" of ice and snow will fall through the night. Outside our homes there are millions of people in need of not only the basic sustenance, but also in need of some kindness and generosity.

I urge you to lend a helping hand to someone in need whenever the opportunity arises. We have the blessing and opportunity to make money, but someone out on the street most likely does not. Give and give sacrificially. Prove to yourself that you are not a heartless, greedy, typical American. Help someone.

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